Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The News about Canada’s Overshoot Could Be FAR Worse Than We Imagined

Chris Clugston’s SOA analysis, obviously more comprehensive, more credible and contemporary a yardstick of carrying capacity than Rees and Wackernagel’s dated EFA , estimates that the United States can sustainably support only 10.7 million people at their present lifestyle. Currently America has 304 million people. So that is .034 % of their current population.

Let’s pro-rate that for Canada. Comparing the United States to Canada in ecological terms, while obviously problematic seeing that the two countries are not symmetrical in terms of climate, soil or topography, offers a more accurate mirror of our predicament than comparing the rest of the world to Canada. So let us proceed from there.

The United States has 304 million people and Canada has 33 million. That is, Canada has 10.8% of America’s population.

If the two countries were roughly comparable in economic and environmental terms, then SOA analysis, that is “Societal Overextension Analysis”, if applied to Canada would indicate that we could only sustainably support .034% of our current 33 million hyper-consumers at their present living standards.

How many Canadians is that? 1,122,000! That is 122,000 more people than Biodiversity President Brishen Hoff declared Canada could support in a statement he made in mid 2008, a statement that would be greeted in most quarters as outrageous and absurd. And it was a statement not informed by the SOA approach that only just has come to our attention.

To visualize what a country as vast as Canada would look like with 1,122,000 people think of the Ottawa-Gatineau urban centre with Cornwall, Ontario thrown in for spare change. Vancouver inclusive of Surrey would be too big. It has 1,986,965 people. Spread those people across the country any way you like, or concentrate them in one or ten areas. But if they live as we do now, according to SO analysis applied to this country, which makes roughly the same per capita economic and environmental demands as the United States, that is all the people this land can support. People per square kilometer is no measure of a nation’s carrying capacity. Is there an elected politician in any Canadian political party who understands this?

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